Cycle 2; Week 1: Simple Shapes

ANNOUNCEMENT! I will be leading a web-based class from August 16-20 covering the first six weeks of drawing: showing you how to draw through the techniques CC highlights, how to break down art to simple processes, how to try different techniques for those who get frustrated. The cost is $25 for four 1-hour classes. While the live classes will be August 16-20, the recorded classes will be archived in the same place, allowing you to see how drawing is done in “real life”. Speaking as a student of art, I’ve only had a handful of teachers who drew in front of me, and who showed me, step-by-step, how to do a technique. And SEEING how to do something like this made a major difference in how fast I understood something and could add it to my skill set. I hope to see you there, either August 16-20, or later in the semester!

(AKA “Blocking”)

I struggle with this module a lot. Essentially, it’s taking my entire first semester of drawing class in college and condensing it to a half hour. For ages 4-12. Plus parents. (BTW, “Perspective” (Week 5) would be condensing most of the second semester drawing class into a half-hour!)

Yeah. Nothing intimidating about that!

Because of the research I did into drawing development, I felt the urge to re-structure this module to be more “age-appropriate.” I hope it works for the various levels of tutors. I just got my assignment: the youngest group again–so at least I’ll experiment!

Now, why is this “blocking” so important?

Blocking is the process of “building” the overall look, size, and proportions of any image on paper. There’s virtually no details, and all you’re trying to do is get the “big idea” down.

To start training in blocking, you MUST look at a picture, or statue, or somthing similar and copy it to you paper. Why not draw out of your head?

For the same reason you don’t turn someone who has never cooked into a fully stocked kitchen.

They’ll cook along the lines of what they “think” is correct–and make a mess.

It’s the same with drawing. It’s fine to free-draw and play, that builds muscle control, focus, self-regulation, all of which are good things. But if that’s all you ever do, you’ll continue to make a mess. You will draw things they way your brain *THINKS* they are put together, without taking the time to stop and look and really *SEE* how they are put together.

So, if you really want to learn how to draw “realistically”, you first need to copy, copy, copy things. Think of those reference images as “recipes” for that particular exercise.

The amazing thing is, after you do this for a while, you can not only easily draw anything you look at, you can start to draw things out of your head BECAUSE you learned how to block.

When I draw something, and I have no reference image, I just block it out. Inside a few minutes, I can figure out, “Does this work?”, “Is that the right size?”, “Is this what I want?”

This sketch, of the baby robin who fledged the morning of my Practicum this year, was drawn using pencils and colored pens. I blocked him in, with no reference image, just memories from the previous few weeks as we all watched Alexander’s parents feed him outside our window. A large oval for the body, a small one for his head, a couple of reference lines for the beak and tail, and soon I had the drawn “skeleton” of a baby bird I could then fill in. But I can do that only because I’ve copied dozens of birds from photos–I have a good mental idea of how one is “put together” now.
(His name was Alexander “The Great”. My oldest named him. She said, “He always wants more, just like Alexander the Great always wanted more.” You win, kid. Alexander, he shall be so called.)

And if it is, I can start to add details. Learning to block pictures out has freed me to draw a number of things straight from my head. First, however, I had to learn to look at real things and see how they are put together.

I hope I did all right. If you notice something is missing, please forgive me, drop me a line here, (still working on the email forwarding, so now I just manually check) or ask me on the DD facebook page. And I’ll try to get it to you ASAP.

Here we go! I’ll try to make up the Visuals as a seperate module tomorrow. Upside Down shouldn’t be too different from last year, nor Mirror Image. Those are both “mental tricks”, to help “see” these blocks in another way.

See you on Wednesday!

Abecedarian Script  (Ages 4-7) 

Apprentice Script  (Ages 6-9)

Journeyman Script (Ages 8-11) 

Masters Script (Ages 10-13)